(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)

So I spent this past Saturday under the car, swapping in a 14b, and I can firmly state that the concept of swapping turbos between the T25 and the 14b the day before a Pro race to better fit the course layout is dead. Yurk, what a pain in the ass. The installation process is actually pretty straight forward, and there's little in the way of rocket science involved (although I discovered that the car runs _much_ better with the MAS sensor wire connected) it's labour intensive and touches every system in the car that can leak.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I'm starting to find I'd rather pay someone to do this stuff than do it myself. :( Thanks to the guys on IRC that provided a little spot advice when needed.

As it turns out, the top oil feed line is weeping slightly at the turbo, and the bottom oil drain line is leaking slightly at the oil pan. The latter I can fix with a little silicone the next time I do an oil change, but the former I've decided I can live with - there doesn't seem to be a way to get a wrench on that banjo bolt without dropping the turbo, and it's not losing enough to drip, just enough to keep the center section of the turbo moist.

My initial spin around the block was depressing too. At street speeds, the T25 is a much better turbo. The response is much better, and it jumps to a higher initial boost level. The 14b felt flat and laggy in comparison, and I was having serious second thoughts about the whole concept.

The next day was CHAMP Event #1, the first in a series of events run by a group of local autocross clubs. CHAMP events are bottom of the barrel in the autocross pecking order, but occasionally a "name" driver will show up and make things interesting. They make great tuning events, tire scrubbing events, and they're a great way to show the flag and generate interest in the more serious forms of the sport. In other words, a perfect event for trying out a new turbo.

(2010 Comment: Whoo, boy, aren't we getting full of ourselves?)

The course was actually fairly open for a CHAMP event, which means it wasn't folded back on itself a hundred times like old spaghetti - but the lot was slick and _very_ bumpy, covered in frost heaves and badly broken pavement. ESP turnout was fairly light, but a pair of "names" did show up: Al Chan and John Tak, in their 3rd gen Firebird. This is the car and driver combo that took 5th or 6th at Nationals last year, and the car has lost about 150 lbs over the winter. They are both excellent drivers, and the car is very fast, so I was going to get an answer on the "is a Talon really competitive in ESP" question.

The first run had me suffering from cold-rear-tire oversteer in the first turn and was, well, it was a first run. :) The car, however, gave me a nice surprise: The 14b pulls hard right to the rev limiter; keep the car above about 3500 RPM, and it pulls much harder than the T25 did. Actually... no, it pulls about as hard as the T25 in the T25's "sweet spot" but it doesn't choke off like the T25 did - it just keeps on pulling. First gear is suddenly usable!

There's a price, in that if you drop below 3500 the car is an absolute dog, but a quick downshift quickly fixes that, and unlike the T25, where a downshift was a quick down-up touch because there was nothing in the top of first, the 14b can hold first longer. Like 2000 RPM longer.

The second run was very fast, but I tagged a cone near the finish, and so threw it away. The third run I overcooked the entrance to a sweeper, and collected a couple of cones near the exit. The 4th run I backed off a hair to get clean, and it was a little slower than the second - but clean.

Then the moment of truth - Al and John's runs. To my surprise, my times were right on theirs. My clean time was 4 tenths back from the winning time, but my dirty time was in the same tenth - it may have even been a winner. As it was, I wound up third.

Now given that I was driving half-assed trying to get a feel for the way the power worked with the new turbo, and that quite frankly my mind wasn't all that focused, this is excellent news and bodes well for the future.

The tires worked great. I'm growing progressively more convinced that the big tires are the right way to go, especially in low-traction conditions. Having all that tire means putting the power down in places where a RWD car just can't.

Happily, my concerns about not getting enough heat into the rears seem to be unfounded, at least, once the first couple of turns are done.

However, the lot was so bumpy that for the first time I got tire-fender interference. It's a transient thing, but it does happen, so I'm going to roll the inside fender lip and raise the car a quarter inch (I think the springs have taken a set since I first installed them, so I'm a little lower than I was in Ft Myers).

So a little bit more tweaking, and we'll be ready for the next Pro event in Peru.